When Rigor Collides With Wonder

dying-rose-bwc.jpg“…One of the more disturbingly repeated words one hears in school these days is “rigor.” Teachers need to demand rigor. Students must display rigor. Lessons must be built on rigor. There need be rigor all over the place. Just as the experimental Common Core State Standards are suddenly absolutely essential for our kids to be “college and career ready”, so too must teachers and students approach the sacred Core with ceaseless rigor. If not, the mantra goes, how in the world will they ever compete for jobs in the super savage new global economy?

Personally, I am appalled by the use of such a word in schools, no less now, in fact, than when I first encountered it at least 1000 usages ago. Consider its various meanings:

a (1) : harsh inflexibility in opinion, temper, or judgment : severity (2) : the quality of being unyielding or inflexible : strictness (3) : severity of life : austerity
b : an act or instance of strictness, severity, or cruelty
2: a tremor caused by a chill
3: a condition that makes life difficult, challenging, or uncomfortable; especially : extremity of cold
4: strict precision : exactness
5a obsolete : rigidity, stiffness
b : rigidness or torpor of organs or tissue that prevents response to stimuli
c : rigor mortis…”


As in all campaigns in which fear and brainwashing are essential components, corporate education reform is highly is dependent on and makes great use of repetition. As such, teachers across America have been forced to read, listen to, and at times regurgitate the same language — never our own — endlessly to please the current education overlords who, being non educators, are radically different from those who came before them.

And I assure you the current overlords are not easily pleased. Consider Commissioner John King or Secretary of Education Arne Duncan — not to mention those like Bill Gates and Eli Broad, from whom people like King and Duncan receive their orders.

One of the more disturbingly repeated words one hears in school these days is “rigor.” Teachers need to demand rigor. Students must display rigor. Lessons must be built on rigor. There need be rigor all over the place…

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6 responses to “When Rigor Collides With Wonder

  1. I, too, am so tired of hearing and reading the word “rigor/rigorous.” I swear some people think this word is what is going to “sell” Common Core! Here’s an example of how the standards based grading (or maybe it is just the teacher) is NOT helping our freshmen at KHS be prepared for college and career readiness: When presented with science fair packets, students were told that they CANNOT take their work home to work on – it HAS to be done in the classroom and they are all doing the same project dictated by the teacher. I am quite sure that no professor or boss is going to require that all work stay in the classroom and that they all have to do the same thing. Creativity? No such thing in this science fair project – “creativity is not part of the scoring, that is for art projects.” Yes, some students and parents have voiced concerns – obviously no one is listening otherwise we would not feel the need to vent here on the blog!


    • I’ve been asking our oldest about science fair, so he can do something really interesting. (Does Grade 7 not enter?) The best science fair projects demand time outside the classroom, and require imagination. Whoever the teacher is, is using “rigor” and not in any good way. What is the thought process behind this? …..besides, of course, more control. Sacrifice everything on the alter of control:( Einstein said “Knowledge will get you from A to B; imagination will take you everywhere.” ..but what did HE know about science? That is what this blog is for. You are probably not alone, and it’s best to handle these things together.


  2. I know I have a freshman. It is ridiculous! I can’t believe all the stupidity. Where is the common sense.


    • “Common Sense” doesn’t make money for shareholders of testing companies, Pearson whatever…..

      “The things done in the name of the shareholder, are as terrifying to me as the things done, dare I say it, in the name of God.” ~John le Carre

      I never dreamed there would be so much pressure from so many directions to take money away from children for profit. From consolidation — for most of our oldest son’s school years, someone has been looking in his classroom window and wanting to take away what he has! Susan Gendron said of the money spent on him in Benedicta “That money would be better spent elsewhere!” ..though there was no State money involved, and property tax payers were very supportive. Now, not only are they sucking money from faculty to feather a Superintendent’s nest, Island Falls wants to liquidate his school to enrich their coffers — and they are starving it in the process! You CANNOT invest in kids, and divest from the school they attend. Also, Google how Pearson wants to profit from your child — they have fines to pay…. The Common Core was designed to create a revenue stream, and poor communities cannot afford it.

      I will do everything I can to stop it. If I don’t try my best, here, I could never live with myself.


  3. Glad for all your work Lisa! I really want to take back the control of our children’s education, and have them receiving the education they all deserve! Malone needs to go first. Can’t believe they just gave him a raise.


    • I’m glad you’re pleased! I agree with you. As long as Katahdin is being governed by a Superintendent who wants Katahdin shuttered, its children will not see the benefit of the hard-paid tax dollars of their parents, grandparents and community members. Every decision he makes about Katahdin either forwards his mission to close it OR is best for kids — never both. I applaud the withdrawal effort, as you have more options out of the RSU. But efforts to regain control of your tax dollars within the RSU are vital in the meantime, though. What were they thinking, right? Giving him a raise? What second-year TEACHER makes an above-average salary for teachers of all experience levels around the State? ..paying consultants good money to do his job? Two things: “awe” of management on the part of the Board, and cronyism — it’s costing kids dearly.


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